Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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The ship was grounded on the shoals
The Pilgrims had not yet achieved their goals
The crowd was hungry, tired, depressed and sick
There was no welcoming party with a magic trick
To heal the suffering and recover moral fortitude
All the tribe had to offer was comfort and food
With great trepidation they approached the invaders
Dressed in high hats and collars of religious crusaders
If we were having coffee today I would tell you our week was almost perfect here. Welcome to my home this lovely mild weekend in Tucson. If you are living up north I hope you packed your bathing suit so you can go in the jacuzzi and get some sun on the deck before you head back home. These are the perfect weather days that make Tucson so popular as a winter destination. Help yourself to tea or coffee, and please enjoy a snack from the sideboard laden with food. I know many of the Americans will be weary of even seeing food, but for those of you who live in other countries we are serving pecan sweet potatoes, mini-croissants, green beans almandine, homemade spicy cranberry ketchup with chunks of ginger to compliment a large cheese tray. In the center of the table is a mega plate of raw and pickled vegetables, olives, pickled peppers of every kind, and 20 different sauces in which to dip them. If that does not overwhelm you with the colors and flavors of the fall season, there is nothing more I can do. Please make yourself at home and eat as much or as little as you want. Tell me what has been going on in your life. Pull up a chair and stay a while.
If we were having coffee I would tell you about our day on Thursday. We went to Thanksgiving lunch at our local vegetarian buffet run by the Hare Krishna community. They have a great selection, beautiful outdoor patio, a band, and a live turkey. This is the perfect place for our celebration. We ran into an old friend we had not seen for years and ate our meal with her. That was pleasant surprise. I chose not to overeat at lunch because I could take the leftovers home in a box and keep going later. It all tasted great cold, especially the green beans mixed with mashed potatoes and gravy. I dump the carrot gravy on all my food because it is the thing that pulls the whole meal together. I could drink this gravy as a beverage. We write down what we appreciate most on a piece of paper to enter a drawing to win a free lunch. It is not important if you win the lunch, but writing your gratitude and putting it in the jar with the other papers completes the group intention. It is simple yet effective. They would love to encourage participation in their religion, but never solicit or recruit patrons of the restaurant. The old days of aggressive Hare Krishnas chanting in airports are gone. Now they make fabulous food and finance their temple feeding Tucson. They announced a new delivery service they are launching which I will surely use, even though I live right up the street. They will bring me delicious food as well as any clothing, incense, wall hangings, or books I might need in the future.
As we drove to Govinda’s we were stopped at a red light when we observed two cop cars and two cops running around in a shopping center next to us. One cop approached a Native American man who was waiting at the bus stop on the corner. We rolled down the window to listen to the conversation between the two men. The cop asked the native man if he had seen anything in the area. We did not clearly hear his response, but he seemed to indicate the he had seen someone enter one of the locked, closed businesses. The cop asked him for ID. The man asked why he had to show ID. The cop told him “I don’t know who you are…” The light turned green and we drove on thinking that must have been some Twilight Zone Thanksgiving re-enactors back at that bus stop. Why should a Native man at a bus stop have to show ID to Tucson Police Department employee? I thought about Standing Rock and the military vets who are self deploying to protect the sovereign rights and water quality of the First Nations in the Dakotas. The violence being used at Standing Rock reminds me of the Indian Wars, and that reminds me of Harvard being founded to convert the local Native Peoples to a particular brand of christianity. All that reminds me of Wounded Knee. Our history is highly genocidal. The irony is wildly significant on our “how we bonded with the Indians” holiday.
On a lighter note, my Thanksgiving cactus started blooming right on cue, on the very day. I am proud of her. Please check out her rapidly unfurling flowers next to the front window. Thanks very much for visiting on this busy weekend. Please check out our other coffee sharing friends who gather at Diana’s site, here. Post, comment, or just enjoy the coffee.
This year No Kid Hungry is prepared to provide 100 holiday meals for every $49 donated. They use volume and organization to be very cost efficient, but they are also supported by large food companies. This nationwide effort is a system to end childhood hunger, which is much more common than most Americans might believe. If we start to consider the amount of waste and overindulgence set to transpire this week ( and last for some time) we might carve out $49 from our budget to feed children who do not have much security in their lives. I don’t know how much you can afford, but I know all of us are on one side or another of a great divide. The disparity of wages, privilege, civil rights, and dare I say, justice, is a major freak out. The symbol of children going hungry while some spend with lavish abandon is an embarrassment in the United States. It represents the worst of what we have allowed to happen to our society.
We can freak out all we want, but that is an unhelpful response to our crisis of inequality. Unless you are yourself in need of assistance (and sometimes even if you are) there is something you can do to be of service to others on earth. You can bring the gift of a smile if that is all you have to give. You can volunteer or quietly help someone you know is in need. An easy way to participate in the big feast of Thanksgiving is to be sure hungry kids have a seat at some table and something to eat. Bon appetite, gentle readers. Pass the equality, please.
The Thanksgiving story is told in November to commemorate the precarious situation in which the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony found themselves. By the good graces of the local tribe these English people managed to survive very far from home. They were not ready for the harsh winter and new surroundings. They were able to negotiate a treaty for mutual protection with Massasoit, the leader in the area. The meal shared to celebrate the treaty has been told for centuries, but there are a few written words from the time documenting this meeting. Most of us have an image from our school days of happy well dressed Pilgrims entertaining Native Americans at an extensive potluck supper. There is some mention that the Wampanoags supplied all the vittles, but we tend to gloss that over while we celebrate our highly revised impression of history and the Pilgrims.
These Pilgrim heroes soon broke down into all kinds of crazy religious infighting and banished each other for infractions. My own ancestors were banished to Sandwich and other little settlements on Cape Cod. Some had to leave because they had been secret Quakers, and one was banished to Barnstable for marrying a Native woman. We imagine Plymouth as some pure attempt at religious freedom because we have not looked very closely at what happened. Many of my ancestors went to Rhode Island to look for religious freedom and fair dealings with the Native Americans. I had several ancestors who fought on both sides of King Philip’s War, which I am sure we did not study in school. We just move on quickly to Boston and tea party and America without stopping to think what became of those people who gave the Pilgrims dinner and protection.
The big news that has been edited is all about that treaty. The pact worked for a while, but as time passed the English population grew and the agreements became strained. The English proved to be less than honorable when it came to keeping their word. The Wampanoags who survived King Philip’s War were shown no mercy. I have extra interest in the Native version of this event because I went to Cape Cod expecting to find traces of my Wampanoag family tree. I found that records do not exist to trace it although my Mayflower ancestors are very well documented. Intermarriage was very common so I am not the only one with a mystery branch in my tree. There is a very small group of people who are members of the Wampanoag tribe today, and their last names came from England. Survival for them meant adapting. This year, for a change, imagine the entire Thanksgiving story from the perspective of the original people.
My ancestors attended the first Thanksgiving party in Plimouth Colony. Most of my heritage is English, and the Mayflower was full of my peeps. My 11th great-grandfather attended the feast as a representative of the Wampanoag people. When he first met the Pilgrims they gave him alcohol , which must have aroused his curiosity. The political system in New England was way different from the one in Europe. The local natives made friends with the Pilgrims with reservations (not the kind they have been granted by the US government). They had made contact with Brits before which had resulted in an outbreak of disease that killed a large number of the people. They saw the Mayflower, but kept a distance since they assumed these Brits would be diseased as well.
Quadequina is credited with bringing popcorn to the first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoags I met in Plymouth this year told me it was actually parched corn. Either way, there was a potluck dinner and Quadequina brought corn as his dish. He acted in good faith, was a respectful and polite guest, even allowing the Pilgrims to occupy his homeland and build a fort around their town. It was fairly impossible for the American natives to do due diligence on these religious Pilgrims who had arrived and planned to stay. Squanto, the famous translator, was about all the interface available. The Natives of New England were stuck with this highly unnatural situation through no fault of their own. They just happened to be where the Mayflower got stuck on the rocks. It was their luck.
When my 10th great-grandfather Gabriel Wheldon wanted to marry Quadequina’s daughter he gave his consent and helped the couple avoid disaster from the Pilgrims:
Gordon B. Hinckley, Shoulder for the Lord” by George M. McCune page 35- ” Two of the early immigrants to Plymouth colony were Gabriel Wheldon, of Arnold, Nottingham, England, and his brother (name unknown). Gabriel had been married in England before sailing to America but his first wife named Margaret evidentally was deceased at the time of his migration. Both brothers had a free spirit much like Stephen Hopkins and found their way to the camps of the Wampanoags. There they both fell in love with two of the daughters of chief Quadequina, younger brother of the Great Chief. They each married and Gabriel gave his second wife the English name ‘Margaret’ after his first spouse. The two counseled with their father-in-law and his older brother Massasoit regarding what to do. The Plymouth Colony would probably punish them for their intermarriage. Massasoit advised them to return to the colyn and all would be well. The Plymouth Colony tribunals saved face by banishing the couples from Plymouth for life but did not send them back to England. Gabriel and Margaret established their home in Barnstable where the Hinckleys came in late 1630’s and here Gabriel and Margaret raised a large family of girls. One of these was Catherine “Catone” Wheldon who married Stephen Hopkins'(First to build a house in Mattachesse Villiage/Yarmouth) oldest son Giles on October 9, 1639. Giles had been given the home his father had build in Yarmouth and the couple established their home and raised four children there. When Giles’ father Stephen passed away about July 1644, his father left an estate.. Some records give Margaret as the wife of Gabriel Wheldon. It seems she was his second wife, who, after his death, may have returned to England with Rev. Marmaduke Matthews and his wife. Other records state that Margaret was an Indian Princess, Wampanoag, and give her lineage for several generations. He _may_ have been Margaret’s brother. He immigrated 1638, aPreacher of the Church of Malden. He returned to England in 1655, and Several of the Malden Church members went with him. Of these returning pilgrims, the widow Margaret Wheldon, who left a law-suit over the estate of her deceased husband, Gabriel, also went to England. (from: Pg 155 The History of Malden, Massachusetts, 1633-1785). Rev Matthews died 1683 in England.
I don’t believe he is partial to either pecan or pumpkin pie. I think Quadequina would have liked to see us celebrate equal rights and justice each November. The story of Thanksgiving is mostly mythical, since very little was recorded at the time. Turkeys may not be the best logo for American seasonal gratitude. Popcorn deserves a place at the table.
Since last November I have visited my ancestral homeland at Plimouth Colony in Massachusetts. The museum and displays helped me to more vividly picture what those Pilgrims were doing in the 1600s. I have many ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower, and I am not overly impressed with that fact. I am, however, truly grateful to learn that I am Wampanoag. I study history by learning about my family tree. Thanksgiving, as taught in elementary school, has very little to do with the real events that took place at the time. There was a feast and celebration, and there was a great deal of unease about these English people who built a fort around their town and put cannons on the second story of their church. These Pilgrims, who are depicted to children as seeking religious freedom, only believed in religious freedom for themselves. They had been repressed in Holland for their beliefs and wanted a place where their somewhat radical thinking would not clash with any royal Euros. They did not propose to extend religious freedom and tolerance to the native people they encountered in America. They proposed to convert them to Christianity, their own style of Christianity.
Harvard was endowed and sustained in business by conversion of native people. The Indian College was used to educate and convert natives. If they had not come up with donations based on this premise, Harvard may never have become the institution it is today. My tenth great grandfather Thomas Dudley signed the charter for Harvard because he was the colonial governor when it opened. His daughter and my 9th great grandmother, Anne Bradstreet, was a poet and wife of Simon Bradstreet, also a colonial governor.
I am not as proud of them as I am of Quadequina. I have taken sides in the Thanksgiving story. I think the Pilgrims were rude to say the least. We build it up as a story about peace and religion, but it was a story of imperialism. When I learned that all the historic wampum belts have gone to England to be kept in museums I became angry. A very cool Wampanoag elder who worked at Plimouth gave me some very wise advise about that. She told me there was no point in being angry about the past. She is obviously correct, but my feelings have changed about history, Massachusetts Colony and all that it meant, and the fable of Thanksgiving. There is more bitterness that the peach pie reveals. It makes me wonder exactly how my tribe feels when they celebrate this holiday. It looks like the tribe may open a casino on Martha’s Vineyard. It is fair to give them access to the wealth and the weakness of the white people on that island. There is plenty for everyone. Turn about is fair play, even if it comes hundreds of years later.
There was no drinking water on the Mayflower voyage. Every man woman and child was issued beer to drink. This gave new meaning to the word sloshed. It also gives a new reason for the Pilgrims to be seriously thankful to end the trip. Ironically it is the Brits who are celebrating Alcohol Awareness Week while Americans prepare to guzzle all weekend in the name of thankfulness/football. The British are suggesting that the use of an alcohol unit calculator will shock most people. I am sure this is like the food list for eating awareness. Addictive eating and drinking is by definition kept unconscious. Much energy is spent giving holidays the power to force overeating and drunken excess. This illustrates the general state of mental decay we promote. A holiday honestly does not have the power to make you do anything. Turkeys and cocktails are not a force, they are symbols.
How much change can you create by choosing Thanksgiving as the day to begin knowing how much you really drink? This holiday has special meaning to me because it was at Thanksgiving that my dad got so publicly drunk that I was able to convince him to go to Betty Ford. He was 81, and the treatment did not work because he went right back to Texas to his supportive drunken environment. My parents had to be removed entirely from the state to begin to address the issue. This year while you do your holiday bar tending, filling your home with extra cheer, don’t kid yourself. Calculate.
There is some gross generalization presented in the Thanksgiving spectacle/history lesson of the colonies. There was turkey, lots of lobster, and headgear similar to the hats and feathers in school pageants, but the Pilgrims and the Puritans are not the same group of people. If one traces carefully the two thought forms still exist in America, but they are distinct. Pilgrims came from Holland on the Mayflower to bring their biblical faith to another part of the earth. They believed they were sojourners on the earth destined for the holy city, and only subject to worldly law when it did not conflict with religious directives. The Puritans, as the name implies, had been working in reformation to purify religion through political action. Puritans arrived after the Pilgrims in the Boston area. They had a different attitude toward the native people, since they were not sharing a divine sojourn with them, but making a political state that they believed aligned with pure reformation ideals. Both groups shared biblical Christianity as their standard, but in practice Pilgrims sought peace while Puritans sought to dominate through harsh purifying authority (think Salem/witches). None of this would have ever been done if the Bible had not been printed, causing Europe to become politically violent about reforming, restoring, separating, and purifying. Before printing presses political power and religious power were so obviously entwined as to cause…the Reformation.
Thomas Southworth was born a Pilgrim in Holland. His father died there. His mother, Alice Carpenter , sailed from Leiden on the Mayflower with her second husband, Gov. William Bradford. After Plymouth was established as a Pilgrim colony Thomas joined his mother and stepfather. William Bradford was a shoe merchant, and many other Mayflower Pilgrims were also in clothing, hat, and fashion trades. They had spent years in Holland being influenced by the fancy colorful costuming of the Dutch. It was politically not cool to starch your ruffs (ruffles like QE I wore up around the neck). The large collar draped rather than stiff said you were so New World 1620. That explains the white scarf look we see in costumes. Almost no real Pilgrim clothing remains from the period, so the current stereotype is not accurate. Black and grey may have been worn, but were not standard. These Pilgrims were fashionable religious adventurers (with stylin’ footwear) bonding with the natives in the new commune/colony of Plymouth when the Puritans arrived. Thomas spent his career as a (well dressed, I am sure ) politician.